Mutual Exchanges

Your current council property may no longer meet you or your family’s housing needs. For example you may wish to move to a smaller or larger property or one that is more suited to your health needs. Council tenants can choose to exchange their tenancy with another council or housing association tenants throughout East Lothian and the UK or apply to the council for a transfer.

1. Things to think about

2. Advertising and searching for exchanges

3. What to do when you’ve found an exchange

4. Transfers

5. Incentives for exchanges and downsizing

1. Things to think about

  • you should not carry out an exchange without getting permission
  • you will not be allowed to exchange to a house too large for your needs
  • in new build properties, rents are higher than in older council properties and council tax may be higher
  • you will need to clear any debt owed to the council, like rent arrears, before moving
  • you will not be allowed to exchange if you have broken the terms of your lease, for example with antisocial behaviour
  • if you are a Housing Association tenant see the information on our Help for Housing Association tenants pages

2. Advertising and searching for exchanges

Complete an online form to advertise on both the council and East Lothian Housing Association websites.

Your advert should appear within ten days, if it doesn't contact your housing office. You must include some contact details, otherwise no-one will be able to contact you. This could be a work number/email address, or for friends or family, if you prefer. Your name will not be published online.

Printed copies of adverts are available at our area offices and it is possible to advertise only in these offices - but that will limit your responses.

Advertise your property for a Mutual Exchange

If you have already advertised and wish to make changes or cancel

Make changes to a Mutual Exchange advert

Searching in East Lothian

Search for a suitable property in East Lothian or nearby

Searching for properties elsewhere

Some local Housing Associations do not help tenants to advertise here. For local properties not in our advertising scheme, or ones elsewhere in the UK, links to other websites are available. We do not guarantee the quality of these sites - the links are provided only to help you. Some services may make a charge. If you know which area you want to move to, the local council website may be useful.

3. What to do when you've found an exchange 

Download our guide to swapping your council house to read about the process, including important do's and don'ts.

This information is for council tenants - Housing Association tenants should contact their landlord.

4. Transfers

All council tenants with a secure tenancy can apply to transfer to another council house.

You should complete an 'Application for Housing' form and return it to your housing office. Your housing circumstances will be assessed and points awarded - we will confirm this in writing. For more information, go to our webpage about 'Applying for a council home'.

Your wait for re-housing will depend on the points awarded, your areas of choice and the property types you have selected. If you have questions contact your Community Housing Officer.

5. Incentives for exchanges and downsizing

East Lothian Council offers grants to council tenants who wish to move to a smaller property either owned by the council or another Housing Association in East Lothian. 

Transfer grant

This payment aims to encourage tenants who are living in properties that are too large for their needs to downsize, freeing up family sized accommodation for those who need it.

In addition, for single applicants who wish to downsize from a larger family property i.e. a 3 bedroomed property, it is also possible to qualify for a two bedroom home.  We recognise that single applicants may need an additional bedroom for family visits and care. 

Eligibility criteria

  1. the grant can only be paid to an outgoing tenant of East Lothian Council
  2. the outgoing tenant must move to a smaller house (including sheltered or amenity housing) located in East Lothian and owned by:
    • East Lothian Council
    • a Housing Association/Registered Social Landlord
    • a house that is in shared ownership, where one of the sharing owners is a Housing Association/Registered Social Landlord

       3. The transfer must not lead to overcrowding and must be consistent with the council’s Allocations Policy occupation levels (except in the case of a single applicant)

Payment amounts

  • £2,000 general payment per eligible move
  • an additional £1,000 for each bedroom downsized

Example A

A couple in a 3 bedroom home wish to downsize to a  2 bedroom home.

£2,000     general payment

£1,000     1 bedroom downsized

=£3,000   grant payment payable

Example B

A single person in a 3 bedroom home wishing to downsize to a 1 bedroom.

£2,000     general payment

£2,000     2 bedrooms downsized

=£4,000   grant payment payable

Mutual Exchange Grant

The value of the Mutual Exchange Grant is £200. In order to qualify for the grant, the following criteria must be met:

  • all parties must have a secure tenancy
  • the grant can only be paid to an outgoing East Lothian Council tenant
  • the outgoing tenant must move to a house (which includes sheltered or amenity) located in East Lothian and owned by East Lothian Council or a Housing Association/Registered Social Landlord
  • when the mutual exchange results in a move to a smaller property only the Under-occupancy Grant will be paid
  • tenants who have already been the subject of a mutual exchange within the last two years prior to entry are ineligible for a grant